What is the EPQ?

The letters EPQ stand for Extended Project Qualification. It is a Level 3 course that is required from some schools, where sixth form students need to do one alongside their A Levels. 

It was founded in 2006 by Sir Mike Tomlinson and is now a widely respected, and sometimes compulsory element of Sixth Form curriculums. There is also the opportunity to do an ‘HPQ’, standing for ‘Higher Project Qualification’ during your GCSE years- a shorter task of the same nature. 

Depending on the school, the options can be to do:

  • 2 A Levels and an EPQ.
  • 3 A Levels and an EPQ.
  • 4 A Levels without an EPQ. 

So, it is essentially an extra subject in Sixth Form, however you have the freedom to choose which topic to do your EPQ on, providing students the freedom and experience to practice and explore their own interests- not to mention being a great practice tool for university academics.

To summarise what an EPQ is, it is an essay, report or project of your choice that you submit to an examiner. It is graded from A*-U or by being worth between 8-28 UCAS points (worth half an A Level), which increase your chances of getting into a good university and looks very good to employers. 

EPQs aren’t just limited to long essay writing, it can also be a creative outlet to help pursue an extracurricular passion. This wide scope of opportunity for things to do, can range from anything such as a long essay about science, to writing a song album and recording it. 

Invaluable reasons to choose to do an EPQ:

  • To practice independent learning before starting university.
  • To practice self-discipline with your work.
  • To practice time management skills.
  • To practice critical and reflective work.
  • You can branch out from typical academia in your school curriculum.
  • To improve collecting data skills. 
  • To improve data analysis skills. 
  • To explore and practice your own talents and interests. 
  • They are well regarded by universities.
  • It can help with public speaking skills.
  • You can personalise them to your own interests.
  • Many universities make lower A-level offers to students undertaking an EPQ.

Having the freedom to choose what you want your EPQ to be about, you could tailor to your future career or university course, giving yourself great knowledge in a particular area which you can later on mention in interviews or in your personal statement. 

Hints and Tips to writing a good EPQ:

  • Do it on something that genuinely interests you.

It would be much more difficult to research content on something you find boring!

  • Create visual tools to help you brainstorm topics. 

Such as mind maps or flashcards to help you engage with the topic.

  • Check each subtitle is actually related to your question. 

When writing a lot of words like that it is very easy to go off on a tangent and write about something irrelevant. Although it may be correct, if it is unrelated you won’t get marks for it. 

  • Think about your future.

Remember how valuable they are to universities and future employers as a way to motivate you to do well.


  • You will have a coordinator to support you.

Don’t forget to ask them for help if you need it. That’s what they are there for!

Finally – remember any deadlines!!

So to summarise, doing an EPQ at sixth form is a growing phenomenon and is well advocated by many schools in the UK. It gives students the opportunity to work independently on a topic which suits their interests. Its increasing popularity has meant that it is well regarded by universities and employers. They can be fun, challenging and interesting, and are really recommended.

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